Teens Taking up the Slack - Sweet Sixteen.

06_26_09.JPGIt is Anneke’s ‘Sweet Sixteen’ today.

On the one hand, I can’t really believe this day has arrived and her father is still gone. Like somehow, at some point he should have walked in the front door and with little fanfare saying “I’m back.” It has been 8 plus years. She has been without him longer than she had him. I should know better by now.

On the other hand, her best friend threw her a surprise birthday last night and it is clear my daughter knows she is loved. Truly loved. Her friends came through in an enormous way and all the way home Anneke smiled and shook her head in disbelief. “Awesome,” she kept saying, “Awesome, just awesome.” Her memory of Sweet Sixteen will be joyous. I am grateful.

As usual, each holiday and special occasion is a mixed bag. We celebrate the moment, and understand who is still missing. But we really do celebrate. Last night was a festive occasion for Anneke and she was all about love and appreciation and happiness. No doubt today she will think about who is missing but it will not dominate.

My gift to her was a car key. Tomorrow she gets her drivers permit. We have done some parking lot practicing to prepare her for the road. I miss her father when I am in the passenger seat. I was not cut out to teach driving. I pray the whole time my right foot is jammed into the floor…“Dear God. Hear my prayer…”

And yet, I must admit, there is a little part of me that is quite happy to teach her driving. We have had some laughs, a few anxious words and I have told Anneke she must stop saying “I know Mom” when I repeat an instruction for the zillionth time. We have had memorable moments that I would not have had if Mike had been here. Like when she mistook the gas for the brake…. (We were in a very big parking lot and I promise you it will not happen again…)

Life goes on. I appreciate every moment and every contribution from friends and family. I appreciated what our children do for each other and how they understand each other. They fill in the blanks, doing what their parents cannot, just because parents are parents.

Our children are in good hands.

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